Shimano XTR M9100 may have only launched a week ago, but already the 12-speed groupset has been making waves amongst the global mountain bike media and on internet forums everywhere. Aside from taking the logical step to go 12-speed in order to keep up with SRAM’s popular Eagle 1×12 groupsets, Shimano has introduced an enormous 10-51t cassette, trumping SRAM’s 10-50t cassette and 500% gear range in the process.
To make such a cassette possible, Shimano has also rolled out a new freehub standard called Micro Spline. This is basically a smaller version of a current Shimano freehub body, but with more serrated teeth for interlocking into a corresponding spline on the cassette. That big 51t allows the rider to generate some pretty serious torque on the rear wheel, so the splined freehub body is designed with that increased torque in mind. Unlike SRAM’s XD system though, Micro Spline is a licensed design, so other brands will have to pay Shimano before they can offer compatible freehubs. Aside from Shimano, DT Swiss is currently the only brand on board who will be producing compatible rear hubs. Shimano informs us that it’s in discussion with ‘other brands’ about licensing the design, but we’ll have to wait and see as to who else comes on board.
There are loads of sweet details to be found in the new M9100 line, so we took the opportunity during the 2018 Fort William World Cup to get our hands on two Shimano display bikes decked out with XTR 1×12 groupsets, in order to take you through some of the smaller features on this slick new component range.
The big theme running through Shimano’s new XTR M9100 groupset is choice for the rider. There are three different cassette options, 2-piston and 4-piston brake options, and the cranks can be setup with a single or double chainring via a simple direct-mount design. Though Shimano didn’t have any front derailleurs, shifters or double cranksets on display at Fort William, there were two separate bikes; one setup with a 1×12 Race groupset, and the other featuring a 1×12 Enduro groupset.
At this point in time, Shimano isn’t giving any firm arrival dates for the new XTR M9100 groupset. We’d expect to see it on complete bikes for the 2019 model year, so likely at the tail-end of summer or sometime in autumn. As for aftermarket groupsets? Typically Shimano serves OEM demand first and foremost, so it might be a while longer before consumers are able to purchase an entire drivetrain or groupset on its own.